• Senate FAA Update
  • April 18, 2016
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • On Wednesday, the Senate voted 98 to 0 to begin debate on a watered down reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. The current authorization expires on July 15 of this year and the Senate reauthorization would extend that through the fiscal year 2017.

    While the bill has enjoyed bipartisan support, largely because it has avoided tackling the big issues like Air Traffic Control corporatization and airport infrastructure funding, a potential hurdle still exists.

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made clear that Democratic support hinges on the inclusion of three renewable energy tax credits that were left out of an omnibus spending bill last year. That has some Republicans grumbling, particularly over the cost of the tax credits.

    To appease Democrats, Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) said the reauthorization will include a tax title, but the details still need to be ironed out.

    Conservatives in the Senate, as well as conservative groups, are threatening to oppose any effort to include these clean energy tax credits.

    Democrats also plan to introduce three amendments aimed at strengthening airport security in response to terror attacks last month. The amendments are not expected to face opposition from Republicans.

    On Thursday, the Senate rejected an amendment that would require the FAA to establish minimum space standards for airline seats. The amendment, introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), was rejected by a vote of 42 to 54.

    The FAA bill, S. 2658, would establish a regulatory framework for drone safety, standardize fee disclosures for passengers, require refunds for lost baggage, and includes reforms to the aircraft certification process aimed at helping U.S. aircraft manufacturers compete abroad, among other provisions.